Child’s Play with Mae Elliessa

  • Shawne Wang
  • 1 December 2019
To play Wendy in “Peter Pan in Serangoon Gardens”, Mae Elliessa had to revisit her childhood – and learn to fly! Find out how she gets into character and what this show has taught her.

Tell us about the character you play – Wendy!

Wendy is a little darling with lots of spunk. It was an interesting challenge for me to find what makes Wendy tick. I admire how she approaches that time in her life when she’s on the cusp of growing out of the child she is and into the adult she will become. She does it with a sense of adventure.

How do you get into character? What preparations did you have to do for the role?

To start, I had to wind the clock back more than 10 years! I found myself thinking a lot about who I was when I was 14, which is Wendy’s age now. Together with our director, Ivan Heng, everyone in the cast explored a child’s sense of wonder, young love and growing up – themes and ideas that are part of Wendy’s journey, but are also part of all of our own lives.

Also, I took voice lessons to prepare for the singing and fly lessons for our commute to Neverland!

What is something you’re doing as Wendy that you’ve never done before?

Flying! Sword fighting! And being a mother.

What’s it been like working with everyone on stage and off to create Peter Pan in Serangoon Gardens?

It’s been so inspiring! I’ve learned so much watching my fellow cast members create pirates, a boy who never grows up, mermaids and fairies, on stage and off. The First Stage Kids are a delight to be around! I also learned a lot under Ivan’s direction – I have so much respect and admiration for his enthusiasm and passion.

Wendy and her brothers meet the Lost Boys in Neverland

This is your first time performing in WILD RICE’s new theatre. What has that experience been like for you?

I’ve never performed on a thrust stage before, so that was terrifying but also thrilling. The thrust stage in this theatre really lends a whole different meaning to being in the room with the audience! Audience members are seated all around us – the furthest being only 12 metres from the stage. And they’re so close. It makes for a much more intimate experience, as we interact with audiences and vice versa. I’m still learning every time I step on the stage, making even the smallest adjustments like maintaining a higher default eyeline. I’m glad we have a longer run with this show, so I can keep learning how to tap into the power and potential of a thrust stage!

What’s your favourite song in the show, and why?

That is a tough one! I can’t just choose one favourite “song”, because I love the entire musical journey that goes from Wonderful Things/Flying in Act One to Goodbye in Act Two. Thanks to Julian Wong’s gorgeous music and Joel Tan’s profound lyrics, this journey between these two songs is truly magical. I don’t want to give too much of the magic away – you have to experience it for yourself, live or on Spotify!

In the show, Peter Pan needs a wonderful thought – and fairy dust – to fly. What wonderful thought would you use to fly?

That my family will be watching the show next week!

How does this show resonate with you, and why do think you people should come watch Peter Pan in Serangoon Gardens?

Peter Pan is a classic tale that reminds everyone of the child that lives on forever within us. That’s what Peter Pan in Serangoon Gardens does for me. I think, once in a while, it does us good to remind ourselves of the child within – to acknowledge that this child still exists, and to nurture it even as we grow up and go on other, different adventures in life.

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